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US Restricts Movement UN Staff from Cuba, Iran & Others, Ban's UN Silent

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 14 -- When the UN's Sixth (Legal) Committee took up the US as "Host Country" on November 14, not only American banks' cut off of services to mission but also restrictions on movement were raised.

  Inner City Press has previously reported how the US restricts movement to 25 miles from Columbus Circle for not only countries' diplomats but even UN staff members from that country.

  Cuba complained of just this on November 14, saying that it violates international law and conventions, including the US' Host Country agreement.

 Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's position on this restriction on the movement of UN staff. He replied that the UN has representation on the Host Country Committee. But apparently Ban's UN won't speak publicly on restrictions, as it does in other countries.

  Back on September 10, the same day the banking industry's lawsuit against New York City's responsible banking ordinance was dismissed, at the UN on First Avenue the General Assembly issued muted criticism of JPMorgan Chase. Video here, from Minute 2:59:35.

  Back on March 18 JPMorgan Chase came up as a topic, and target, in a closed door meeting at the UN of the Group of 77 and China on March 18, several Permanent Representative then exclusively told Inner City Press. They marveled that the UN does business with JPM Chase while the bank cuts off many of the member states of the UN.

  In April, a G77-agreed draft resolution emerged, including a review of the UN's relations with JPM Chase -- by name. Inner City Press has publishing the full text of that draft, below.

  But in the months since April, the resolution got watered down, until it was adopted without opposition or debate at the end of a three-hour UN General Assembly session on September 9. (There was debate about Argentina and sovereign debt restructuring, which Inner City Press covered yesterday here.)

   Introducing the resolution was Bolivia, as chair of the Group of 77 and China; their speech said that banks in the City of New York have "humiliated" several nation's UN missions.

  Here is the adopted text of the resolution, seen in advance by IPS, which also quoted Sri Lanka's ambassador Palitha Kohona about it. Kohona was previously, among other things, a UN official, so he should know.

  Still, the idea that asking Ban Ki-moon to press the US to do almost anything is dubious. Will JPMorgan Chase view a UNGA resolution in which it is not directly named, only "sub-tweeted," as a threat to its reputation? After its behavior during the subprime lending meltdown -- the predatory bender -- does that even have to be asked?

  Back on March 18 in the half-light of the UN Conference Building's second floor, ambassadors complained that while JPMorgan Chase is moving to deny many of their missions bank accounts, the bank also overcharges them when for example they pay or get paid by UN Peacekeeping.

  The idea discussed was to draft and vote on a General Assembly resolution on the topic. The US government is required, under the UN Host Country Agreement, to try to ensure banking services for countries' diplomatic missions.

   So JPMorgan Chase was in PP4 of the April draft, but its name was dropped before the September vote. JPM Chase was centrally involved in the 2008 predatory lending meltdown that hurt the economies of countries around the world, as Inner City Press has covered in depth. It has avoided any jail time for that, and now slips out of a UNGA resolution. But the press for accountability will continue. Watch this site.


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